MN House approves restroom policy that restricts access for transgender students

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The Republican-controlled Minnesota House approved an education budget bill Saturday that includes a provision that would restrict transgender students' access to school locker rooms and bathrooms.

The omnibus education finance bill was amended during floor debate Saturday to include a provision that would require students to use restrooms and locker rooms based on their sex – "which is determined by a person's chromosomes and is identified at birth by a person's anatomy" – not the gender they identify with.

The policy would not prevent schools from providing separate single-occupancy facilities for people who are transgender.

Rep. Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg, who introduced the provision, says it ensures student's privacy.

But Democrats object this amendment, saying it's discriminatory and could lead to legal challenges, The Associated Press says.

Miller's amendment is similar to the "Student Physical Privacy Act" that was introduced in the House earlier this session. The bill would roll back the controversial Minnesota State High School League's transgender policy, which was approved late last year after months of debate.

The amended education bill passed by a 69-61 vote, and now goes to the Senate, where Sen. Chuck Wiger, DFL-Maplewood, is the sponsor, the Session Daily notes.

The bathroom provision must be approved by the Democrat-controlled Senate and Gov. Mark Dayton. Similar legislation has failed to move forward in the state Senate, the Pioneer Press reports.

Transgender restroom debate

"Bathroom bills" are being debated across the country this spring – and these bills are becoming the battleground for transgender rights across the nation, Al Jazeera America noted.

Supporters of such measures say they protect peoples' privacy and promote public safety by prohibiting voyeurism and rape, TIME reported.

But advocates for the transgender community argue those concerns are unfounded, and such policies open the door for judgement and discrimination against people who are transgender, the publication said.

The increase in "anti-transgender legislation" mirrors the increase in suicides and murders of transgender people this year, Advocate.com says, noting there have been at least eight suicides and seven murders of transgender people in 2015.

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